La Mama is a truly memorable place to attend a performance. The rustic nature of the venue, the intimacy of its stage area, the friendliness of the staff – every aspect of the atmosphere at La Mama is truly delightful. The initial idea behind the theatre was that all scripts would be read, anyone could submit a work, and there was to be no rent for those wishing to put on a show. That mentality still exists today, being at the core of La Mama‘s ideology. They host contemporary dance works, as well as plays and other performance art practices.
Inspired by the art scene she experienced whilst in New York during the late sixties, Betty Burstall returned to Melbourne and founded La Mama. In many ways, it functioned as those New York art spaces had. In its early days, the venue struggled to pay the rent and received visits from the police for works which were deemed to be offensive. The only rule that Burstall enforced was that the show would only go on if there were to be more people in the audience than performers in the play. Surrounded by family and at the age of 87, Burstall passed away peacefully.
La Mama will host an open memorial service for her later in the month, with details to be announced via their website.